Monday, January 16, 2023
(After playing the scenario Lord of the Iron Fortress in Matt McPike’s D&D 3.0/3.5 Greyhawk game on Discord today from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with Scott Wakefield, Adam Frager, Laura McPike, Aaron Frager, Sean McPike, and Scott Allen.)
Matt McPike: DUNGEON MASTER
Myself as Ahnold (ogre barbarian) & Falstaff (human sorcerer)
Scott Wakefield as Fred (gnome wizard)
Adam Frager as Groth Stoutbrew (dwarf cleric)
Laura McPike as Alexiah (dwarf fighter)
Aaron Frager as Turk Stoutbrew (dwarf paladin)
Sean McPike as Himo Nailo (human monk)
Scott Allen as Maxerian (human psionicist)
The Tale of Ahnold the Ogre Barbarian
The Company of the Copper Card stood hidden behind the rent piece of the metallic Lost Cube on the first layer of Acheron: Avalas. They were not far from the edge that led to another side of the cube. A quarter of a mile away stood a great tower made of gold, silver, iron, platinum, and other metals. It was tall and impressive.
Coming towards their position and still some 400 feet away was an 18 foot tall giant with sky blue skin and jet black hair. He wielded a humungous flaming morning star. Approaching with him was an enormous reptilian beast, its 10 heads writhing and snapping. The terrible thing was also blue.
Fred flew to the top of the gouge of metal and a fireball flew from his fingertips and engulfed the giant and the hydra. Moments later, both came out of the fire as it dissipated. Some flames clung to the giant’s skin.
“Turk!” Groth called out. “Get out the shards!”
Fred cast a stoneskin spell upon himself and dived back down behind the wall.
Falstaff and Alexiah appeared on another cube from where they’d started. A fortress stood a quarter mile or so ahead of them and some 300 feet or so away were a giant and a hydra coming out of the smoke of what Falstaff recognized as the remnants of a fireball. A quick look around showed they were near the edge of one of the great cubes of Acheron with a chunk of metal jutting up behind them some hundred feet away.
“If you’re facing that tower, head off to the left,” Falstaff said. “At least I am.”
He flew upwards about 30 feet and to the left some 60 feet. Once he reached a place of relative safety, he looked more closely at the giant. It was a cloud giant, he realized, and noticed there was something about it. The creature was not just a cloud giant. He knew half-fiends often had resistance to elements at some level.
He also noticed an ogre looking out from behind a rent in the ground in the opposite direction.
“What happened!?!” Ahnold said to Fred. “What are you doing!?!”
He peeked around the side of the wall of metal. The giant and the lizard continued to walk towards them.
“They’re still coming!” he said.
“They walked right through the fireball!” Fred said.
Ahnold hefted his club.
Turk took out his bag of holding and pulled out the magical shards. He put a brown one by his head and set it orbiting himself. Then he cast protection from evil on himself.
The giant sprinted towards them, halving the distance between itself and the group.
Alexiah and Falstaff saw two duergar appear not far from her on the battlefield. They held a giant metal egg.
“Oh!” they said. “Oh no!”
They vanished, leaving the egg behind. It fell to the ground and rolled a few feet. One of the sides of the egg opened up and Himo fell out. He shook his head, having just woken up, and looked around. He saw the rent in the strange, iron ground, and the approaching giant and hydra. He stood up, turned, and stumbled towards the rent in the ground.
Alexiah, still invisible, saw him run right by her.
Groth picked up a brown shard and set it in motion around his head.
“Ahnold see them running towards us!” the ogre said. “And there’s a man too!”
“Grab the brown ones and think about doing earthquake on the big guys,” Groth said.
He cast airwalk on himself.
Maxerian moved over by Ahnold and peered out around the rent metal they stood behind. He recognized Himo and, not far behind him, an escape pod. Maxerian’s eyes widen when he saw the pod and the things rushing at them from behind it. He concentrated and manifested inertial armor around himself.
The hydra was falling behind the giant as it was slower and had much stubbier legs than the size of its body would seem to indicate.
Alexiah flew to her left, hoping it was the same direction as Falstaff. She looked around, axe at ready. She saw an ogre and Maxerian peeking out from behind the rent metal.
Fred peeked his head up back over the wall. He readied himself to cast a spell when the hydra came closer.
Falstaff searched through his bag of holding and pulled out Nester’s Fork, a powerful wand. He flew towards the giant and the hydra, still invisible. Neither of the creatures seemed to notice him.
“Human!” Ahnold yelled. “Come with me if you want to live!”
He rushed out from behind cover, his club Smasherbeater in hand, and ran to the man who was heading their way.
Turk rode out from behind the cover on Glorack, his rhinoceros mount, one of the brown shards circling around his head. Once he could see the giant clearly, he concentrated, creating an earthquake on the spot where the giant stood with the power of the shard. The giant was shaken but didn’t fall. He continued moving forward.
“Come on!” Ahnold yelled. “Come on!”
The giant reached into a small pocket on his belt and then started chanting as the ground continued to shake all around him. Nothing seemed to happen and the giant cursed the cubes of Acheron and they had forced him to lose his balance.
“Wha!?!” Ahnold yelled.
Two duergar appeared on the battlefield, grabbed the strange sphere, and disappeared again.
Himo stopped and stood by Ahnold’s side.
Behind them, Groth walked on air to see up over the ridge. He watched the giant and hydra approaching and readied himself to use his own earthquake if the two got close enough together to both be affected.
Maxerian ran forward behind Turk on Glorack and readied himself to use his psionic power of energy ray if the giant or hydra got close enough.
The dragon continued to run forward but still lagged behind its master. Groth thought them close enough together and activated his earthquake power from the shard. The giant fell but the hydra continued to trundle forward. Fissures opened in the area but none near either the giant or the hydra.
Alexiah, still invisible, flew towards the giant.
Fred flew up from behind the cover about 20 feet and then towards the battle at speed.
Falstaff realized the giant was trying to cast horrid wilting, a spell that sucked the moisture out of an area. He’d never seen it in action but had heard horrible tales. He flew perpendicular to the giant, getting closer to the hydra, and pointed Nester’s Fork. He frowned, realizing the purplish blue hydra could breathe a cone of cold from each of its 10 heads every 30 seconds or so. The thing needed to be damaged by fire or acid when a head was cut off to kill it. If the heads were cut off and not sealed within a few seconds, two heads would spring from the cut neck and the thing could have up to double the number of heads. It could be killed without cutting off the heads, but it healed very quickly. The thing seemed to be the perfect specimen of hydra.
Rethinking, he cast a fireball spell on the beast, turning visible. The blast only partially struck it but the fireball seemed to have no effect.
He whistled at the beast.
“Here boy!” he said. “Here boy!”
The hydra looked directly at him.
“Ahnold see little man throwing fire!” Ahnold cried out, continuing his narrative. “Giant! C’mon! C’mon!”
He swung his club around himself readying to attack the giant if it came near.
Turk rode Glorack towards the giant. He drew out another earth shard and created another earthquake between the giant and the hydra. The ground shook around them both and the hydra stumbled but didn’t fall. A fissure opened near the hydra and it fell in.
The giant tried unsuccessfully to get up. He tried to cast another spell but failed.
“Surrender now!” Ahnold yelled. “Or we will mess … you up!”
Himo moved to and looked at him.
“I hope when this is done, y’all can explain what’s going on,” he said.
He readied himself to attack if either of the creatures came close.
Maxerian also moved forward to Ahnold and readied his energy ray again.
Groth, flew out from behind the rock outcropping they initially hid behind, moving forward. He cast spiritual weapon, a magical axe appearing in the air near the giant. The spiritual axe struck the giant, cutting him.
Scraping like nails in a chalkboard and growling came from within the fissure.
Alexiah, still invisible, saw the hydra trying to climb unsuccessfully out of the fissure. She flew down.
“I wield the power of the Horn of Hellfire!” she said.
She turned visible as she struck the giant with her flaming axe. She cut it but the flames didn’t seem to burn the thing.
Then the fissure closed and purple paper-thin chunks and green and blue ichor spewed out of the crack.
Fred took out a wand and fired a lightning bolt at the giant. The blast struck the giant directly but didn’t seem to affect it at all. It looked like it annoyed him.
Falstaff cast another fireball that licked over the giant’s torso, legs, and feet without touching Alexiah. Some of the flame caught on the giant but most of it blew over him and didn’t seem to hurt him. Then he flew up to about 80 feet above the ground.
Ahnold realized how the shards were working and he stomped forward to Turk and Himo, his club ready.
“C’mon!” he yelled. “C’mon!”
Turk rode forward as Ahnold reached him. The dwarf had his lance ready.
The giant stood up, Alexiah cutting into him with her flaming axe as he did so. The giant swung its flaming morning star, striking her solidly. Himo ran forward and tumbled at the end of the rush, putting himself toe-to-toe with the giant. Maxerian ran up behind him, but left more room between him and the giant. Groth’s spiritual axe came down on the giant twice more, cutting the beast. He flew towards Ahnold. Alexiah cut into the giant twice in quick succession, her axe deflected by his armor on her third strike.
“What business do you have with Imperagon!?!” the giant shouted.
Fred cast hold monster on the giant but nothing happened.
“Surrender or die!” Falstaff said.
He cast a magic missile spell, sending four missiles at the giant, injuring it further.
“Ahnold!” Ahnold yelled.
He charged forward at the giant, but Maxerian was in the way and he had to deflect slightly. The giant brought his mace down and struck the ogre a mighty blow.
“Is that all you got!?!” Ahnold yelled. “C’mon!”
Turk rode forward with his lance ready.
“You have some friends of ours held captive!” he called out. “Release them!”
“Tell me their names!” the giant called back. “I will make sure they die painfully!”
Falstaff began laughing loudly at the audacity of the giant. The giant backed quickly away from the group.
“Yeah, you betta run away!” Ahnold yelled.
Himo rushed the giant, charging him. The giant brought down his morning start, striking the man, who leapt into the air, landing on morning star and running up it to punch the giant in the right temple. He struck the creature so hard, his fist went through his skull. The giant’s face went blank for a moment and his eyes crossed. Himo pulled his bloody fist out.
Maxerian moved up past Ahnold towards the giant. Then Groth’s spiritual weapon attacked again. The first blow cut deep into the giant, nearly gutting him. It pulled out, blood spewing, and struck him again. The giant went down to one knee, dropping his weapon.
“Surrender!” he cried out. “Surrender! Surrender!”
Groth flew to the giant, his spiritual weapon floating away from the giant and floating around the dwarf. Alexiah moved up to the giant as well.
“I surrender!” the giant yelled again. “I surrender! Who leads your war band?”
Ahnold ran up to the giant.
“What is going on!?!” Groth cried out. “Himo! Where’d you come from!?! Alexiah! Falstaff! What!?!”
But Falstaff was gone, having taken out a cubehop scroll. He met Fred’s eye, nodded at the wizard, read the spell, and disappeared. Maxerian and Turk both saw him vanish.
“We’ll explain that later,” Alexiah said. “Let’s deal with this one first.”
She gestured at the cloud giant.
“Ahnold, pick up his morning star!” Groth said.
Ahnold let go of his club which was connected to his wrist with a leather strap. He picked up the huge morning star.
“Who amongst you is the leader of this war band!?!” the giant said again.
“I am!” Turk called.
He rode forward.
“Leading from the back!” the giant said with a sneer.
Ahnold poked the giant with the mace.
“Ahnold say you shut up!” he said.
“I think we need to move away from the fortress,” Groth said.
Ahnold looked towards the fortress. All was quiet there. The giant turned and looked at Turk.
“Yeah, let’s start moving back!” Turk said, turning and heading back.
The giant got up and walked behind Turk. Alexiah walked behind him near Ahnold. Himo was with them and activated his wholeness of body to heal himself. Groth watched the giant carefully, unsure if it might regenerate.
“Does anyone know what this thing is?” he said. “I know it’s a giant, but what kind.”
“I am a cloud giant!” the giant said.
“Big giant!” Ahnold said.
“I don’t even know where we are,” Himo said.
Ahnold gasped, glad someone else in the group didn’t know where he was either.
“You don’t even know where you are!?!” the giant said condescendingly.
Groth looked around, thinking Falstaff might have said something in answer to his question about the giant, but he didn’t see the sorcerer anywhere.
“You think you so big!” Ahnold said to the giant. “But you not that big!”
“What is the name of your war band?” the giant said.
“We ask the questions here,” Turk said.
“That is a funny name for a war band!” the giant said.
“Aren’t we the Company of the Copper Card?” Himo said.
“That is also a funny name,” the giant said.
“Where are you holding the dwarves?” Turk said.
The giant looked at him.
“You really have no idea where you are,” he finally said. “This is the Lost Cube! The Cube of Imperagon! The Forges of Imperagon lay before you in the Iron Fortress! The souls of those damned dwarves will rot once they finish the weapon.”
They took their prisoner back to the hill made of the shard of metal. Groth advised they go over the side of the cube and leave a guard to watch the fortress. They took their prisoner over the edge and to the other face of the cube, moving away from the edge some ways. Himo felt strange as they went over the side of the cube and gravity seemed to shift.
“Is like that the first time!” Ahnold said to him. “Is like that. The first time.”
“What’s going on?” Himo muttered.
“We’ll explain shortly,” Groth said. “Do you need healing?”
“I could use a little bit.”
“All right. Can you peer back over the edge and keep an eye on the fortress?”
Himo nodded and went back to the edge after Groth cast a healing spell upon him.
Alexiah tied up the giant as best she could with the rope she had, taking her time. Ahnold distracted the giant while she worked, poking the giant.
“Little girly man!” he said. “Little girly giant! You just surrender. Give me this pouch. What is in it? Oh, let’s take this off! Take off this armor! Yah. Little girly man, take the armor off. Do it now. Do it now!”
“You’ll have to untie me, you fool,” the giant said.
“She’s not done yet. She only got your feet so far. So you should take off this chain shirt. And your pants! Take off your pants!”
“She’ll have to untie me.”
Ahnold touched the giant’s pants with the flaming mace.
“That’s a bad idea!” Alexiah said.
“Wait … who?” Ahnold said. He turned to Groth. “Is this your sister?”
Groth took command, telling them to take his possessions and then tie the giant up.
“Turk, this is the time to ask him questions,” he said.
They removed all his possessions and armor before Alexiah tied him up again.
“Where are you holding the dwarves?” Turk said.
“In the fortress,” the giant said slowly.
“Where’s the forge?”
“In the fortress.”
“Where? I realize it’s in the fortress.”
“In the Pit of Toil!”
“How far down and how far do we need to go to get to it?”
“I don’t need to answer every single question.”
“You have kidnapped innocent dwarves and enslaved them,” Groth said.
“I have not kidnapped anyone,” the giant said. “I protect Imperagon.”
“You protect Imperagon?” Groth said.
“How much do they pay you?” Ahnold said.
“Let’s not worry about the money, there, Ahnold,” Groth said.
“Who’s Imperagon?” Groth said.
“It’s the cube that we’re on,” Alexiah said.
“He will soon be the ruler of a large area,” the giant said. “I believe on your home world.”
“Is Imperagon man?” Groth said. “Is he a demon? What is he?”
“You really have stumbled into the hornet’s nest, haven’t you?”
“So far, I think we’re winning here, so … I don’t think we’ve stumbled into anything.”
The giant laughed loudly.
“I may die, but you aren’t winning,” he said.
“What can you tell us of Imperagon?” Groth said.
“That he is powerful!”
“He … is the best kind of dwarf.”
“So, in your opinion. A duergar? Is that what we’re going up against?”
“Really, the only true dwarf, who understands what needs to be done.”
“And does he wield weapons or does he cast magic or both?”
“Soon he will wield the Blade of Fiery Might! And he will put a scourge upon all of you. And upon all of your land.”
The giant looked them all over.
“How will you deal with me?” he said. “Oh brothers of faith?”
“That may depend on your actions,” Groth said. “Like I say, you’re working for someone you know is evil, you know his intentions, and you know what he is‒”
“Is protecting someone evil? I am simply protecting a person who has asked for me to protect them.”
“If you know that their actions are evil, yes. You’re just as guilty.”
“I don’t help them. I just protect.”
“Remember, I have surrendered.”
“You have surrendered.”
“On the battlefield.”
“We haven’t killed you yet,” Alexiah said.
“Oh child of Clangeddin,” the giant said.
“Do you normally … do you normally … is this your home?” Groth said. “Do you normally live here?”
“Of course I don’t normally don’t live here! No one normally lives on the Lost Cube on the level of Avalas on the place of Acheron!”
“All right then. So, your fate is determined by how well you answer our questions.”
“I feel I’ve answered them very well.”
“So far. My brother here is a paladin and he can be judge, jury, and executioner based off what he feels you have done and what crimes you have committed. It might be in your best interest to throw yourself to the court, so to speak, my brother, and cooperate‒”
“Your brother is no court. He may be a judge. I would believe him to be more of an executioner, it sounds like.”
“That’s to be seen.”
Groth looked around.
“Does anybody have any parchment on them?” he said.
No one answered.
“I would like to know a layout of this fortress,” he said to the giant. “I would like to know specifically where these dwarves are held. I would like to know how close to completion this weapon is. I would like to know what this weapon is going to do. I’d also like to know what other people are helping to protect … Imperagon. How are they made up? What are their‒?”
“And if I tell you none of this, I am guilty and sentenced to death?” the giant said.
“I would say yes.”
“What am I guilty of again?”
“Again, I only protect my master.”
“So, if the slaves tried to leave, you would let them go?”
“None ever tried.”
“You protect him by your choice, or are you forced to protect him?” Alexiah said.
“I protect him by my choice,” the giant said.
“Okay, so you’re choosing to enable somebody to harm others. So, you’re complicit and you’re participating in the harm of others, by your choice. You are not innocent in this.”
“Yes, you also harm others.”
“We harm those that need harming,” Groth said.
“Hm,” the giant said. “So, because you hold the right end of the stick, that makes you … righteous.”
“Mm-hm,” Alexiah said.
“I don’t even know where I’m at!” Himo suddenly said.
“We’re in an outer plane, Himo,” Groth said. “We’re in …”
“We’ll explain later,” Alexiah said. “I promise, you’re okay. You’re with us. Let’s deal with this giant.”
“Am I really with you?” Himo said.
“I will not be giving you a map … of the Iron Fortress,” the giant said.
“Then what other inhabitants?” Groth said. “We know of a creature made of chains. We know of a blue ogre in there. We know of the metal cats. What else can you tell us that’s inside?”
The giant just glared at him.
Ahnold moved the flaming mace near his face.
“Ahnold is not touching you,” he said.
Alexiah rolled her eyes.
“Does this bug you?” Ahnold said. “Ahnold is not touching you!”
“Ahnold, watch over him,” Groth said. “If he tries to get away, smash him.”
“Okay!” Ahnold said.
He put the flaming mace behind him, out of reach, and took his club in his hand. He slapped it into his other hand as he glared at the giant.
“Hear me know and tell me later!” he said.
Turk dismounted Glorack and the rhinoceros watched the giant as well.
Groth motioned for the others to join him and they walked out of earshot from the ogre and the giant near where Himo lay on the ground and continued watching over the edge.
“So, the way I see it, is-is … Turk, do you know?” Groth said. “Is he evil?”
Turk looked at the giant. He was very evil.
“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah.”
“So, the way I look at it, he is guilty, punishable by death,” Groth said. “The other option he has is, if we don’t want to execute him for his crimes, I can cast dismissal on him and send him out of this plane, but he would have to accept whatever spell I cast on him for it to go through. That’s another way we can get rid of him. But, so far, he’s not being very forthcoming with information, so I don’t see where sparing his life is much of an option. I don’t know if he has the power to get back to this plane to help protect Imperagon, so … I just wanted to see what the rest of you thought.”
“So, do we execute him or do we not?” Alexiah said
“That was just my rough idea of how I’m looking at the situation,” Groth said. “If anybody has any additional thoughts or anything they want to add or want to change it any way, that’s just my basic thought on it.”
“Well, we can ask him where his home is and … if he has a way to get back to here,” Turk said.
“Do you really think he’s going to tell us?”
“Well, it would be in his best interests.”
“I can let him know what options he has too. If that’s something we want to do. But if people don’t feel comfortable with that, and Turk you think we’re within our right to judge him, then we can do that as well.”
“I-I’m all for letting him live if he has no way of getting back here. But if he can get back here in moments and … you know …”
“Even if he doesn’t believe he has the way to do that, don’t you believe this … Ec … what’s his name?” Alexiah said. “Ecoron? Eca …”
“Imperion?” Groth said. “Imperagon?”
“… Imperion has the power to do that if these people believe he’s so powerful?” Alexiah said. “He’s running a mill out here, capturing other people from other planes and bringing them here, so … why would we not think his boss, his overlord, his whatever hasn’t the power to bring him back here?”
“It’s a very gray area,” Fred said.
“That’s true,” Turk said. “It’s collusion.”
Groth reiterated they were not going to dismiss him then. They all nodded.